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SA soldiers wounded in rocket attacks

The SANDF has confirmed that three of its soldiers were wounded in rocket attacks in the DRC.

A South African soldier bearing the nation's flag on his uniform. Picture: Werner Beukes/Sapa

PRETORIA - The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has confirmed that three of its soldiers have been wounded in rocket attacks in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The troops have been assigned to control fighting between Congolese forces and the M23 rebel group.

Fighting resumed near the eastern DRC city of Goma, the capital of the country's troubled North Kivu province.

Last week, President Jacob Zuma told Parliament that over 1,300 troops had been deployed to the DRC as part of a United Nations (UN) intervention brigade mandate, costing South Africa more than R400 million a year.

Chief Joint Operations Officer Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi says 10 force intervention brigade troops were caught in 23 rocket and mortar attacks last week.

He says of the 10, one soldier of Tanzanian nationality has died and nine others are currently in hospital. Mgwebi confirmed three are South African.

He says the UN has shown interest in deploying three Rooivalk attack helicopters in the area.

"They said they are ready so the ball is now in the UN's court and not in South Africa's."

He says it will take between two to three days to have the helicopters deployed and ready after getting the green light.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has called SANDF chief Solly Shoke to brief the joint standing committee on defence so that no more South African soldiers are wounded.

The DA believes the soldiers sent to the DRC have not been properly trained and equipped for their assigned tasks.

The DA's David Maynier said: "General Solly Shoke should brief the joint standing committee on the deployment of the SANDF because we have to be sure that they are properly equipped and properly trained to execute the tasks assigned to them."

Meanwhile, soldier's union SANDU says South African soldiers who were seriously wounded in the DRC are simply doing their job, which inevitably comes with casualties and high chances of sustaining injuries.

SANDU's Pikkie Greef said it was a "soldier's job to deploy and to engage in military operations and injuries and even death is part of the job".

"It's sad and one wouldn't want it to happen but it's unfortunately an inevitable part of military."